Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph’s mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity, but the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of the “colour,” rush to their destinies and doom.
Paper edition from my bookgroup.
I am the first to admit that my reading has been “off” for about 6 months, if not longer, so I am probably not operating at my full game. That said, I am sad to admit that The Colour is the first DNF of 2017.
Three people make the perilous journey from England to New Zealand to make a new life. Joseph; Harriet, his wife of a few months; and Lilian, his mother. Each person has their own reason for leaving England and each has a different idea what the country will offer them. However, the country instantly puts them on the back food, especially x, as the seasons are topsy turvey and they have little time to prepare for winter. Out of stubbornness, Joseph builds his house in the wrong place, using the wrong material, and it soon becomes clear how wrong the decision was.
Joseph gets gold fever, and makes the decision to leave his wife and mother to go to South Island to search for more gold. The majority of the book is dedicated to each major character living a separate life to one another with loneliness being the overwhelming trait in their life, even when surrounded by others.
It’s when Joseph gets left by his only companion, and is subsequently surrounded by other gold rush miners that I finally gave up on this book. I’d been reading it for over a month, and was struggling to get any energy to return to it. This is generally the signal to drop a book and move on, as I wasn’t going to pick up another book until I had made a decision about this one.
There were some good parts in this, such as the description of how and why Joseph decided to leave England (we get hints early on, but only fuller details in the second half of the book). The interaction of the neighbour’s son Edward with his superstitious Maori nurse is also rather magical. However in the end, it wasn’t enough to keep a cynical reader entertained.